After a letdown on Monday night football what’s next for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers? It’s only one loss, but how soon will they to return to their winning ways?
Ugly. That single word sums up Monday nights game between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Pittsburgh Steelers. Interceptions, fumbles, dropped passes, it had something for everybody. Lets not forget yellow flags, many of them. The Bucs weren’t ready for primetime. I know that phrase has become cliché but it sure looked true on Monday. This week presents a tough test against a stingy Chicago Bears defense. The Buccaneers will be looking to bounce back on a short week.
Is Fitzmagic fading?
Ryan Fitzpatrick had a particularly ugly first half against the Steelers. With three first half interceptions the Tampa Bay Buccaneers were in an early hole. Too be fair, we can’t put this all on Fitz. The Buccaneer offense as a whole was sloppy to say the least. The offensive line struggled with the Steelers 3-4 defense all night long. They weren’t able to give Fitzpatrick time to throw nor were they able to establish the ground game against a Steelers defense that has been struggled against the run. A pair of dropped touchdown passes and a fumble by Chris Godwin weren’t exactly helpful to Fitzpatrick. To his credit however, he had a stellar a second half and put the Bucs in a positon to win late but he couldn’t pull the rabbit out of the hat when it mattered most and the Bucs came up short.
A game of chance.
When the Tampa Bay Buccaneers kickoff in Chicago this Sunday it will be all about the quarterback. Which quarterback will it be though? I guess we’ll find out soon enough. The suspension of Jameis Winston has ended and he was at One Buc Place bright and early Tuesday morning. Will we see Jameis this week? Were Fitzpatrick’s struggles against the Steelers enough to send him back to the bench this week? Which quarterback gives the Buccaneers the best chance to win? This could be the most important decision of Dirk Koetter’s coaching career.
Handling the pressure.
Taking a look at the Bears defense it’s easy to see why they have been so successful this season. It’s all about pressure. With the early season acquisition of Khalil Mack the Bears defense is off to a hot start. Through 3 games the Bears have a league leading 14 sacks, in comparison the Tampa Bay Buccaneers only managed 22 all of last season. The Chicago Bears are also forcing turnovers at a high rate. With seven forced fumbles and five interceptions it’s no doubt that the pressure applied by the Bears Defense is forcing opposing QB’s into some poor decisions. How do the Bucs handle this pressure? Which quarterback, Winston or Fitzpatrick, is best equipped to deal with this pass rush?
Jameis Winston had the second highest quarterback rating while pressured in 2017
According to Pro football focus, Winston was the second best QB while pressured in 2017, Fitzpatrick wasn’t too far behind at 12th. You can find this stat in a multitude of places, but regardless of where you look, you will find similar numbers. Jameis is near the top and Fitz firmly in the middle of the pack. Throughout his career, Jameis Winston he has excelled when pressured. Winston seems to be able to extend plays when pressured and allow the defense to breakdown. Fitzpatrick hasn’t been quite as good in that area and I think we saw the pressure of the Steelers get to him Monday night. The pick six Fitz through was a direct result of a poor play made under pressure. With pressure coming Fitzpatrick was eager to get rid of the ball and through a horrible pass that resulted in an easy six points for the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Bucs will not beat the Bears if mistakes like that happen again.
Looking to the future.
Fitzpatrick has been instrumental in the surprising 2-1 record of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. That being said, we all know who Fitz is. There is a reason that Ryan Fitzpatrick has been on seven teams. He is a valuable asset to any team and a great backup quarterback, but he is not a franchise QB. Fitzmagic has been fun to watch but it has ran its course. Is Jameis Winston the future? He was up until the suspension but now his future with the team is in question. The future is something the Tampa Bay Buccaneers need to be thinking about and for that reason, it’s imperative they play Winston. Not only will Jameis give the Bucs the best chance to win this week, Winston essentially is about to begin a 13 game audition. The remaining 13 games of this season are the most important games of Jameis Winston’s career. If Winston plays well, he will earn a new deal. If Winston’s performance is just mediocre, it’s likely they will let him walk after the season.
Jameis Winston or Ryan Fitzpatrick?
I don’t envy Dirk Koetter this week. This is an incredibly hard decision for him to make. Regardless of which QB Dirk chooses he will face a ridiculous amount of public scrutiny.
Dirk’s head coaching career is on the line and he simply can’t afford to mess this one up. It may not be the popular decision at this point, but I think Jameis Winston is the correct decision. Not only does Winston give the Tampa Bay Buccaneers the best chance to win this week, he also gives them the best chance to win going forward. The Buccaneers have been a young team for the past few seasons. Its time to stop thinking about the future, the future is now. If I’m Dirk Koetter and I’m counting on one guy to bring me success the answer is simple: Start Jameis Winston.